US charges former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

02 Novembre, 2018, 02:46 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • US charges former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

U.S. officials unveiled criminal indictments today against a former official with scandal-plagued Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and a former Goldman Sachs banker involved in an elaborate alleged bribery scheme.

The justice department's kleptocracy asset recovery initiative has already filed civil charges aimed at seizing assets allegedly bought with embezzled 1MDB funds, including a $39m mansion in the Los Angeles hills and a $30m penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park.

The former chair of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), Tun Daim Zainuddin, today said that he heard talk of fugitive financier Jho Low's purported plan to purchase another vessel, and leverage the use of worldwide waters, to avoid being nabbed.

Mr Low has previously denied charges filed in Malaysia, adding that it would be "impossible" for him to receive a fair trial there.

The US Justice Department arrested former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa in Malaysia today. Among its services, it helped raise $6.5 billion for the fund and earned nearly $600 million in fees for the bond issuance. Prosecutors charge that Malaysian officials stole billions from the fund to buy property, art and other items including investments in movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street.

He has since been charged with corruption, abuse of power and criminal breach of trust in Malaysia. Prosecutors from the Justice Department's money-laundering and asset-recovery division also played an active role in the foreign bribery investigation. It has previously denied any wrongdoing.

United States prosecutors previously filed civil asset forfeiture suits for assets allegedly bought with some of the stolen funds.

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The three-count indictment on Thursday charges Low Taek Jho of misappropriating money from the state-owned fund and using it to bribe foreign officials and to pay for luxury real estate, art and jewelry in the USA and to fund Hollywood film, including "The Wolf of Wall Street".

Ng was also charged with conspiring to violate the internal controls at Goldman Sachs, which underwrote more than US$6 billion in bonds issued by 1MDB, the government said. Funds from 1MDB that were raised for development projects were used to pay for luxury real estate, art, lavish parties and more, United States investigators say.

The investigation rocked Malaysian politics earlier this year, leading voters to oust Mr. Najib. He has called the Malaysian charges political.

Tim Leissner, a former top Goldman banker in Asia who led Goldman Sachs's bond offerings for the fund, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and to violating foreign bribery laws, prosecutors said. As part of the deal, Leissner will forfeit $43.7 million.

Mr Ng was a managing director at Goldman until his departure in May 2014.

Leissner acknowledged paying millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, according to court records. The BBC has not yet been able to contact a lawyer representing him.

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